Romance scams are one of the most common of scams and I have written about them here at Scamicide.com for seven years. Romance scams prey upon vulnerable people looking for some love and companionship in their lives. Recently Australian law enforcement officials arrested a scammer posing as an American soldier, charging him with scamming a 34 year old Brisbane, Australian woman out of $305,000 through an online romance scam. The accused scammer met his victim through social media and convinced her that he was in love with her and soon he was asking her for money to help him with a variety of emergencies, which is typical of this type of scam. What is not typical is that the scammer, who is actually an Australian from Brisbane himself and not an American soldier actually went to her home to get more money from her. Generally in romance scams, they are continually perpetrated from long distances without ever physically meeting.

Most of these online dating and romance scams involve some variation of the person you meet through an online dating site quickly falling in love with you and then, under a wide variety of pretenses, asking for money.   According to recent FBI statistics, this scam is getting worse with twice as many people becoming victims of romance scams in 2016 compared to 2014 at a cost of almost 230 million dollars. Australian and New Zealand figures indicate that victims of this scam in those countries lose an average of approximately $84,000 in each incident.  In addition, it is highly likely that the number of actual victims of this type of scam is understated because many victims fail to report that they have been swindled due to embarrassment.

TIPS

There are various red flags to help you identify romance scams.  I describe many of them in detail in my book “The Truth About Avoiding Scams.” The most important thing to remember is to always be skeptical of anyone who falls in love with you quickly online without ever meeting you and early into the relationship who then asks you to wire money to assist them with a wide range of phony emergencies.

Here are a few other things to look for to help identify a romance scam.  Often their profile picture is stolen from a modeling website on the Internet.  If the picture looks too professional and the person looks too much like a model, you should be wary.  Particular phrases, such as “Remember the distance or color does not matter, but love matters a lot in life” is a phrase that turns up in many romance scam emails.  Also be on the lookout for bad spelling and grammar as many of the romance scammers claim to be Americans, but are actually foreigners lying about where they are and who they are.  Of course you should be particularly concerned if someone falls in love with you almost immediately.  Often they will ask you to use a webcam, but will not use one themselves.  This is another red flag.  One thing you may want to do is ask them to take a picture of themselves holding up a sign with their name on it.  In addition, ask for a number of pictures because generally when the scammers are stealing pictures of models from websites, they do not have many photographs. Ask for the picture to be at a particular place that you designate to further test them.

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